Women’s rights has been, and continues to be a cause that women in many countries are still making strides towards, as equality, in many areas has not been fully reached. The goal is to eventually be “equal” to men - in pay, in opportunities, in education, and beyond. Many countries have made leaps and bounds in terms of this gender equality, while others are still severely lacking in 2020. So, where does America stand in this versus other countries? Let’s look at some of the rights that a woman in 21st century America has:
We can work
In the U.S, women are allowed to pursue a career in whatever, and wherever they wish. Women residing in other countries aren’t so lucky, as according to the World Bank, “there are 104 economies with labour laws that restrict the types of jobs women can undertake, and when and where they are permitted to work. It estimates that this affects the employment choices of 2.7 billion women.” (Wood, 2018). 2.7 billion women whose right to work is restricted or taken away altogether! But, don’t think the U.S has it all. According to the Washington Post, only SIX countries give women the same working rights as men - Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden. So, America still has some work to do here as well.
We can vote
Now, American’s didn’t pioneer this whole idea of women voting. New Zealand was actually the first country to grant voting rights to women back in 1893 (Miller, 2020). Following New Zealand was Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Russia, Germany, the UK, and finally in 1920, the US. The most recent country to grant this was Saudi Arabia in 2015. As of today, the only country where women can’t vote is Vatican City.
We have the freedom to decide
Whether this be who we choose to date, where we go to college, or where we are going on vacation, we legally, as American women, have the right to decide. While this may seem like a given to many of us, some countries still have restrictions on what women are allowed to do and have access to. For example, in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, women cannot marry, receive health care, have equal rights to divorce or child custody, travel, or pursue higher education without the permission of their “male guardian” (globalcitizen.org). Their lives are heavily controlled, even for things, us American women may take for granted.
We have reproductive rights
In the U.S, women have the right to their bodies (while restrictions/accessibility can depend on the state). This means having the right to get an abortion if one chooses. 590 million women (36% of the world’s population) live in countries where abortion “on request” is allowed (reproductiverights.org). This means, not due to health complications, or other dangers a pregnancy may inflict on a woman. However, 90 million women (5% of the world’s population) live in countries where abortions are banned completely (reproductiverights.org). This means, not even in instances of rape, does a woman have a choice in having the baby or not. This right - of the choices of one's own body - is stripped away for so many women around the world.
We have the right to an education
Whether this is elementary, middle school, high school, or higher education, American women have the right to it all. While education may not be completely banned in most countries, many countries make education difficult to access. Somalia has been ranked the worst country for education, where 95% of poor females do not attend school (graphicmaps.com). This is also a country that places higher importance on males getting an education than females (graphicmaps.com). Other countries with similar restrictions include Nigeria , Liberia, and Mali. Early marriages, sexual harassment, and beginning to work at an early age are some of the reasons these girls never attend school, or drop out early (graphicmaps.com).
While the list can go on and on, it is clear that, although steps still need to be taken in the U.S for women’s equal rights, American women have it better than many women across the globe. However, things are certainly not equal as of yet, even in America. There are still wage-gaps, a lack of women in positions of power, and even a lack of respect for care-giving, like stay-at-home mothers. We pray for those in countries behind the curve and that they are able to catch up in our fight for equality. We pray that every country will soon grant true equality across the board. For such powerful, brilliant, resilient beings, women do not always get the credit or RIGHTS they so deserve. And, so, we chug along in the fight to be seen and valued as such.